Tourists viewing a glacier.

The MA Tourism program is no longer accepting new students effective September 2016.

The Tourism program at the University of Waterloo provides a unique education. You will be part of a graduate program that integrates the social, cultural, environmental, economic and political perspectives on tourism.

This 2-year program, offered jointly by the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies and the Department of Geography and Environmental Management, provides a constructive, critical, and interdisciplinary education that will prepare you for careers in government, business, tourism and recreation planning, and consulting.

You will interact with professors with strong local, national and international research links from a variety of disciplines.

Students can register in either:

  1. the Department of Geography and Environmental Management for a Master of Environmental Studies (MES) or
  2. the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies for a Master of Arts (MA).

Normally a faculty member in their home Faculty will advise students. Although students will pursue 1 of the 2 Master's degrees, they will follow a similar course of study regardless of their home Faculty.


The overall objective of the Master’s program in Tourism is to provide a range of adaptable and transferable skills, which will prepare you for a wide variety of careers. This general objective is supported by several specific objectives:

  1. To equip students with a broad knowledge of theory and research in tourism.
  2. To provide a strong research component focused on the needs and critical evaluation of tourism.
  3. To prepare students for research and administrative careers in the public and private sectors.
  4. To encourage originality and creativity.

Degree requirements & graduate courses

Five graduate-level courses are required over the course of the 2-year program. Courses are taken from both the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies and the Department of Geography and Environmental Management.

Students will be required to write a thesis and will have an option to undertake an internship/practicum for credit. Students will be required to complete at least 1 of the 2 methods courses. Tourism 602 and Tourism 603 will provide the students with a foundation in conceptual, empirical, and methodological issues specific to tourism.

Students must successfully complete at least 5 courses plus a thesis, as specified below. For detail, see course descriptions.

Course category Course name
Core courses:

TOUR 602: Seminar on Tourism Research

TOUR 603: Sustainable Tourism

Data analysis electives - one of the following:

REC 672: The Analysis and Interpretation of Leisure Research Data

REC 673: Qualitative Research Data Analysis and Interpretation

Substantive electives - two of the following:

REC 615: Marketing, Consumer Behaviour, and Leisure Services

REC 630: Recreation Resource Administration and Development

REC 680: Dynamics of Tourism

REC 685: The Structure of Tourism

TOUR 601: Contemporary Perspectives on Tourism

TOUR 604: Social Planning for Tourism

REC 609/TOUR 609: Internship / Practicum

REC 697/TOUR 675: Selected Topics in Recreation and Leisure Resources / Selected Topics in Tourism

Milestone: Master's Thesis (normally supervised by Core or Supporting Faculty)

Residence requirements

Students are normally required to spend a minimum of 2 terms of full-time registration on campus (or equivalent part-time registration - 4 terms). Whatever variation is permitted from this normal schedule, all degree requirements must be completed within 2 years of initial registration. Time extensions are not normally granted.

Admission requirements

The minimum admission requirements for Master's students will apply: 75% overall standing in the last two years of an Honours Bachelor's degree or equivalent. The usual categories of admission - regular, probationary, transitional, and qualifying - also apply. We require a minimum TOEFL score of 600 for students for whom English is not their first language.

For details, see Applying.

Financial support for graduate students

There are several types of financial support including:

  • Scholarships and Research Assistantships
  • Teaching and Research Assistantships
  • Ontario Graduates Scholarships (OGS)

For other sources of support, please consult the Graduate Studies - Awards and funding page.

How to apply

February 1st is the deadline for applying to the Master's in Tourism program, though applications may be submitted past that date.

All applications are completed and submitted on-line. See application form.

Apply to either:

Faculty of Environment

Department of Geography and Environmental Management

Master of Environmental Studies (MES)

Contact: Lori McConnell

Faculty of Applied Health Sciences

Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies

Master of Arts (MA)

Contact: Tracy Taves

More information

For further information, please contact Lori McConnell in the Department of Geography and Environmental Management, Tracy Taves in the Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, or program coordinator Sanjay Nepal.

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